Published: 20 January 2014
If you were asked to picture the best countries around the world to visit on a skiing holiday, the chances are Japan would not turn up on the list. However, you may have heard of one Japanese resort that seems to earn nothing but praise from visitors from around the world. Niseko, on Japan's most Northerly island Hokkaido, has become something of a sensation with serious skiers everywhere.
A few people were in the know as early as the 1960s, and they nicknamed Niseko "The St. Moritz of the Orient." More recently, the New York Times chose to adapt this to "Japan's own St. Moritz" in a headline before heaping praise upon the resort.
Hokkaido is home to a number of world class ski resorts, but Niseko is unique among them with the rate it is growing. Each year, many more visitors from around the world are drawn to the unique skiing experience the location offers.
One of Niseko's key draws is the vast amount of powder, naturally brought in on the icy winds of Siberia by local weather patterns. This makes for deep, reliable coverage and means it is relatively easy for guests to find snow that remains untracked. Especially popular are the tree runs amongst snow-dusted pines. As well as skiers, Niseko is also popular with snowboarders.
The scenery is also something that many visitors single out as a favourite point. The mountains have less of a rugged, imposing look than many other ski resorts. Instead, these mountains have a gentle, enchanting beauty. As well as skiers and snowboarders, in the summer hikers come to the area to wander among these picturesque snowscapes,
Off the back of Niseko's popularity, the amenities that service visitors have flourished. A range of restaurants have sprung up over the years, offering all kinds of good food. Visitors to the area can also be accommodated in some truly excellent luxury resorts. Among these is the Hilton Niseko, where large suites command spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Add traditional Japanese touches, fine dining, and a spa which includes access to a number of hot springs, and the Hilton has developed a perfect complement to the area's high-quality skiing experience.
An equally fantastic but more boutique option is the Green Leaf. Like the Hilton, the Green Leaf offers large rooms with exceptional views. On the top floor, suites occupy corners of the building where huge windows can give views of 180 degrees. It also matches the Hilton by offering a range of fine dining options, and a traditional spa with access to a natural hot spring. However, the Green Leaf has a much more contemporary feel than the more traditional Hilton. Really, the only thing that can separate these resorts is personal taste.
Both resorts offer ski in, ski out and you can share the facilities of one whilst staying at the other.
Another bonus is Niseko’s language skills with over 50 ski instructors at the Hilton alone, all speaking English and 50% of who English is their mother tongue. So no language issues here. The other major benefit of this village is the array of non ski activities available, especially for children. And children are generally catered for brilliantly, with activities including snow rafting, reindeer sledging, snow mobiles and snow shoeing. There is also a very good kids ski school / club which has early drop off from 8.30.
All in all, this is an unbeatable resort for serious powder hounds and families alike and at under £3,000 per person for 10 days including flights, private transfers, ski hire, lift pass and 5* accommodation, it really has to be considered, especially as It’s no further to get to than Canada or the USA’s major snow fields.
Trust us, you will never look back!
If you require any further information about this, or any of our resorts, please do not hesitate to contact us.